The legalization of marijuana (cannabis) for medical use in 25 states and the District of Columbia (as of the writing of this article) has fueled a growing acceptance of marijuana as a treatment option for a number of conditions. Despite criticism of the programs (whether for prescribed medical conditions or recreational), there is real science behind the use of cannabinoids for therapeutic effects by binding to specific receptors on the surface of cells. The commercial availability of medical cannabis has moved patient usage quickly, and many unanswered questions remain as to how to best utilize these medical marijuana product offerings. Click here to read Part 4 of the series.
Science and Research
The legalization of marijuana (cannabis) for medical use in 25 states and the District of Columbia (as of the writing of this article) has fueled a growing acceptance of marijuana as a treatment option for a number of conditions. Despite criticism of the programs (whether for prescribed medical conditions or recreational), there is real science behind the use of cannabinoids for therapeutic effects by binding to specific receptors on the surface of cells. The commercial availability of medical cannabis has moved patient usage quickly, and many unanswered questions remain as to how to best utilize these medical marijuana product offerings. Click here to read Part 3 of the series.
For obvious reasons, painting a complete picture of how cannabis was used in ancient cultures is difficult to do. Fortunately, as the role of medical marijuana in modern healthcare comes to be better understood, interest in its history is leading to important new discoveries:
It must have been something in the air. During a short time window at the end of
the last ice age, Stone Age humans in Europe and Asia independently began using a new plant: cannabis.
That’s the conclusion of a review of cannabis archaeology, which also links an intensification of cannabis use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the dawn of the Bronze Age, some 5000 years ago.
It is often assumed that cannabis was first used, and possibly domesticated, somewhere in China or Central Asia, the researchers say – but their database points to an alternative.
Some of the most recent studies included in the database suggest that the herb entered the archaeological record of Japan and Eastern Europe at almost exactly the same time, between about 11,500 and 10,200 years ago. [New Scientist]
The data illustrate a couple interesting points that expand our understanding of the plant’s history. First, the documentation of cannabis use in both Japanese and Eastern European societies more than 10,000 years ago suggests its value may have been discovered independently by different cultures in different parts of the world. While little is known about its specific uses at that time, these early agricultural records open the door to new discoveries that could further extend the historic timeline.
Additionally, the observation that increased evidence of cannabis use began about 5,000 years ago paints an interesting picture of how new societies were introduced to the plant. This timing coincided with the emergence of transcontinental trade routes and the use of horses to facilitate long-distance travel. The researchers speculate that cannabis became a valuable trading commodity at that time, resulting in more widespread archaeological evidence of its use.
In light of all that we now know about the numerous medicinal properties of the cannabis plant, it’s fascinating to consider how these early societies may have made use of it. Many questions remain to be answered, such as what medical applications were understood and how cannabis was cultivated and consumed by ancient cultures. We know that the use of cannabis as an herbal remedy was first recorded in China just a few centuries later, but the likelihood of as-yet-undiscovered medical use of the cannabis plant in ancient cultures is considerable now that we can confirm how widely distributed it truly was at that time.
Today, modern cultivators rely on advanced technology, sophisticated breeding techniques and extensive medical literature to meet the needs of medical marijuana patients treating a wide range of ailments. As we work tirelessly to advance our understanding of this important plant, considering its historic origins may provide new insight into its place in our culture and its role in promoting public health.
Research into the medical efficacy of marijuana could be significantly expanded under a new policy announced this month:
The Obama administration is planning to remove a major roadblock to marijuana research, officials said Wednesday, potentially spurring broad scientific study of a drug that is being used to treat dozens of diseases in states across the nation despite little rigorous evidence of its effectiveness.
The new policy is expected to sharply increase the supply of marijuana available to researchers.
And in taking this step, the Obama administration is further relaxing the nation’s stance on marijuana. President Obama has said he views it as no more dangerous than alcohol, and the Justice Department has not stood in the way of states that have legalized the drug. [New York Times]
Although a wealth of data does exist illustrating the medical benefits of cannabis, scientists have historically faced obstacles in obtaining it for research purposes. Until now, the only official supply available for approved scientific study has been grown at the University of Mississippi, which researchers often found difficult or impossible to access. Additionally, scientists have expressed concern that the available strains lacked the diversity and elevated cannabinoid content commonly produced by expert cultivators serving patients in regulated medical marijuana programs.
In order to address these issues, academic institutions will now be able to apply for federal licensing to produce research-grade cannabis. This has the potential to create a diverse supply that better reflects the variety and high quality of commercially available medical cannabis in states where it is legally available to patients. Although it is not yet known how many cultivators will be licensed, the possibility of being able to choose between suppliers and seek out specific strains is exactly what researchers have been hoping to see.
In our daily work with medical marijuana patients suffering from a wide range of conditions and symptoms, we’ve seen countless incredible outcomes. Existing data, though impressive, do not yet reveal the complete picture we need in order to understand how and why medical marijuana works so well for so many people. The answers we seek are now closer than ever to be being realized, and this creates exciting new possibilities for patients, physicians and policy makers seeking to understand the importance of cannabis medicines.
Foods that contain beta-caryophyllene: black pepper, rosemary, oregano, cloves, and other dark leafy green herbal plants.
Medical benefits: Because BCP binds to CB3 receptors, it can be highly useful for inflammatory disorders (example: arthritis, multiple sclerosis or chronic pain). BCP can also be beneficial for treating anxiety & depression without the overwhelming mental effects from THC. BCP can also be gastroprotective, which can be helpful for patients with ulcers or even just regular indigestion. BCP will selectively bind to CB2 receptors (which are actually found outside of the brain and in all other parts of the body), so it is not a psychoactive component of cannabis. There is some debate on whether or not BCP is actually a cannabinoid or a terpene because of it’s ability to selectively bind to the CB2 receptors.
Types of strains that betacaryophyllene is commonly found: Arjan’s Haze #2, Super Silver Haze, Neville’s Haze.